Thiamine, or Vitamin B1, is necessary for many bodily functions, including the production of acetylcholine and myelin. Necessary for memory function, acetylcholine also creates a calming effect on the body, aiding in rest, relaxation, and digestion. Myelin is the major component of the protective covering of our nerves–think of myelin as the rubber covering of an electrical cord. Vitamin B1 also helps to convert homocysteine to Sam-E and N-acetylcysteine (NAC). NAC then converts to glutathione which is an incredibly powerful antioxidant. (If you would like to learn more about glutathione, please refer to my previous blog).
Thiamine deficiency is common in patients using diuretics long-term and at high doses; this deficiency is especially common with furosemide in the treatment of heart failure. Alcohol abuse or misuse also leads to thiamine deficiency. Patients with glaucoma also tend to have lower B1 levels than patients without glaucoma.
Severe lack of B1 causes a disease called “beriberi,” producing confusion, high blood pressure, and heart problems. Low B1 levels also contribute to symptoms of depression, fatigue, neuropathy, and constipation.
A special form of Vitamin B1, benfotiamine, penetrates nervous tissue better than B1, making benfotiamine more effective than Vitamin B1.

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